It's Sunday and I'm back from hiatus, which means it's time for another installment of Rushmore Sunday -- a position by position look at the most important players in NFC East history. So far, I've taken a look at quarterbacks, cornerbacks, talent evaluators, running backs, wide receivers and safeties. This week, let's look at arguably the most important offensive players besides the QB -- the offensive line.
The Rushmore rules are simple: pick the four who most deserve being
part of the division pantheon. No more than four, no fewer than four.
They don't necessarily have to be "the best" in the literal sense of the
word, but they need to be an important part of the game's lore. This week's task is more challenging than usual because a) there are no stats for an offensive lineman, and b) there are five positions to consider.
The offensive linemen:
- Russ Grimm, Washington Redskins -- One of the original Hogs, Grimm was 6-3 and 275, which is actually small by today's standards. At the time, he was a behemoth -- a big ugly whose speed and strength helped him dominate defensive tackles. He anchored the Skins line, which paved the way to four Super Bowl appearances. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2010.
- Rayfield Wright, Dallas Cowboys -- Chosen in the 7th round of the 1967 draft, Wright was considered a longshot to make the roster. During his first few seasons, he stayed on the team by serving at tight end, defensive end and offensive tackle. He finally got a chance to start on the offensive line due to a teammate's injury, and he held that job for a decade. Dubbed "Big Cat" for his agility, he was first or second team All-NFL six times. He entered the Hall of Fame in 2006.
- Ralph Neely, Dallas Cowboys -- Drafted by the Baltimore Colts, the Cowboys acquired his rights in a trade. He took over the right tackle spot in 1965 and held it until a knee injury gave Wright (see above) an opportunity. After recovering, he played right guard for a season, and then left tackle until 1977. He was selected All-NFL four times, and was named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade team. While it hasn't happened yet, he arguably deserves to join Wright in the Hall.
- Larry Allen, Dallas Cowboys -- As much as it pains me to put a third Cowboy on this list, Allen deserves this spot. Possibly the strongest player in NFL history, Allen could squat 900 pounds and benched more than 700. He played in 11 Pro Bowls at three different offensive line positions, and was All-Pro 7 times. He appeared in more Pro Bowls than any other Dallas Cowboys offensive player and helped Dallas win Super Bowl XXX. And oh yeah, he was on the NFL's All-Decade teams for the 1990s and the 2000s.
These are the guys who were close to the pantheon, but not quite there. While they don't get their likeness dynamited into the side of a cliff, they at least rate a high-quality commemorative plaque hung at a popular viewing area. The plaques go to:
- Joe Jacoby, Washington Redskins
- John Runyan, Philadelphia Eagles
- Stan Walters, Philadelphia Eagles
- Jim Lachey, Washington Redskins
- Mark Stepnoski, Dallas Cowboys
So, that's the Rushmore List of NFC East offensive linemen. Who should move from the "commemorative plaques" section and who should come down from the cliff? Who's not on the list that should be there? Post your list in the comments. Just remember, you get only four selections, so if you want to add someone, one of the guys I chose needs to come down. There's only room for four.